What are the Differences Between Digital and Litho Printing?

The printing industry is an ever evolving landscapes. There are always new methods and printing machinery being introduced to improve production speed, quality, and sustainability. Not only does this mean that we can now introduce new printing products at cheaper prices than before, but we can also offer faster turnaround times. You may hear terms thrown around such as digital and lithographic, usual shortened to litho, printing. But what are the differences between the two?

Litho printing is the more traditional way of printing. It uses wet ink and printing plates on larger printing machinery. Whereas digital printers will mainly use a powdered ink called toner on a printing press that looks very similar to your standard office printer, albeit a bit larger on commercial digital printing presses.

Both of these printing processes have advantages and disadvantages. In this article we will go through each step to ensure that you choose the correct choice when selecting your printing.

Print Quality

Print quality is critical, especially if you are using printed items for marketing for business or brand. When comparing both printing processes, litho printing used to always be the clear winner when it came to printing quality. However, as time has progressed it has become difficult for people even in the printing industry to tell the difference in quality between both printing techniques.

If your design involves a lot of large blocks of solid colour, litho printing is the preferable option of printing process since the colour will come out much smoother than digital printing. The finish of the print differs greatly between the two printing processes. If your printing has been completed using the litho process, you will find that the ink used soaks into the paper, especially on uncoated stocks. However, for digitally printed products the ink rests on the surface of the paper, and gives it a slightly glossy finish.

When it comes to printing on different types of paper, such as textured and coloured paper, litho printing is the better option; however, when it comes to printing on glossy, silk, or uncoated paper, there isn’t much of a difference between the two, as both techniques offer good coverage and a high-quality print.


Digital printing has a very short set-up time. The process is very simple – the design is uploaded to a computer and when you hit print the process print begins – just like a regular office printer or one that you may have in your home. When printing begins, high volume digital printing presses it can produce around 5,000 sheets per hour depending on the stock used. This makes shorter, time dependant printing runs the best option for digital printing.

The setup time for litho printing is much longer since the design must be processed and formed on printing plates; nevertheless, once this procedure is completed, litho printing produces prints at a faster rate, with some even reaching 20,000 sheets per hour. Therefore, if you need a large quantity printed quickly, lithographic offset printing is the best and cost efficient option.


Because digital printing does not require any (or minimal) setup time, you do not have to pay anything until the printing process begins. You just pay for the paper used and the “click charge,” which is the cost of each page that goes through the digital printing equipment. This click charge doesn’t take into consideration the amount of ink or toner is used, it is all dependent on the amount of sheets that passes through the printer. Due to digital printing being ideal for shorter runs, this makes it the preferred choice when printing business cards.

Litho printing on the other hand is slightly different as there is a setup charge for print runs. This includes setting up the machinery for print, processing and creating printing plates and ensuring ink is ready. However once the process is started, it is just a case of adding the cost of paper and ink to the print run in terms of pricing. You will often find that longer runs of flyers will be printed using this process.

Therefore, this makes digital printing is the preferred option for short print runs, and litho printing more cost effective for larger volumes of print.

Myriad Print – Cheap Online Printers Digital and Lithographic Printing

When deciding between digital and litho printing, consider the amount of the print, the material you want the print to be printed on, your budget, and the design you want to be printed. Both printers have advantages and disadvantages, and certain parts of the considerations you must consider. Myriad Print have access to both types of printing available, as well as large format printers that are ideal for signage and posters.

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